Schools are constantly challenged by parents to prepare their pupils for the future and develop skills which ensure children are ready to take on a rapidly evolving world.
Three pioneering schools in Europe have risen to this challenge by bringing filmmaking into the classroom, an approach which won the Institute Of Education’s EDUCATE award for improving literacy progress. Each school worked with the team of experienced teachers at LitFilmFest, who deliver training and class workshops to enable pupils and their teachers to use 21st-century skills for purpose.
“LitFilmFest recognises the value of filmmaking not only in children developing their own voice and creativity but as a powerful way for children to learn literacy and digital skills,” said Graham Brown-Martin, author of Learning ReImagined.
UCS Hampstead Prep, London
It became quickly apparent to Anthony Lambe, head of year five and six at UCS Hampstead Prep, that LitFilmFest was going to be a hit with the boys. “The fact that it was really different from normal classroom teaching, they were really enthusiastic about that from the start,” he explained, adding: “Being able to combine their ideas and produce really strong pieces of written material which they were able to perform.”
It’s no surprise that with higher levels of engagement comes higher levels of progress and it wasn’t only the teachers at UCS who were able to see this link. In the words of one year six boy: “We put a lot of effort into making the whole script and then filming, so watching it was really satisfying because it showed our last three weeks of work.” The connection between hard work and the satisfaction of a job well done is a value worth developing in a world which too easily succumbs to instant gratification.
Simon Hall, head of English at UCS Prep, said: “It was a roaring success. The pupil and parental feedback has been tremendous, and the films were hugely impressive.”
St George’s International School, Luxembourg
Clare Nuttall, head of primary at St George’s International School, Luxembourg, was keen to develop a sense of purpose for the traditional literacy that her pupils and teachers were undertaking in the classroom. Over three days, the LitFilmFest team delivered workshops to engage the whole school with digital literacy, using simple filmmaking techniques and video-editing skills.
Teachers and students quickly began to use film as a tool to communicate their stories and reach an audience, rather than just using technology for technology’s sake.
Nuttall said: “An excellent experience on so many levels. Superb training empowered staff to confidently use technology as a medium for literacy and beyond. Fabulous classroom projects allowed students to use technology in their English work and involved them in global issues.”
St George’s held their LitFilmFest screening in their impressive school auditorium with family, friends, VIPs and press gathering around to celebrate the pupils’ achievements. Even the British Ambassador to Luxembourg, John Marshall, was in attendance. He said: “I think a film festival is a wonderful thing to do. I’ve had the privilege to go to a number in Luxembourg, and this is by far and away the best!”
Bede’s Prep School, Eastbourne
When an opportunity comes along that challenges students to explore a range of global issues using digital media, the impact extends far beyond the school gates. Step forward Bede’s Prep School, Eastbourne. The school recently held their LitFilmFest in order to deliver powerful messages of political, social and economic importance to their community.
Giles Entwisle, headmaster of Bede’s Prep School, said: “One of the things we believe in so passionately is that pupils are given opportunities to be able to do things differently. So many students have found a voice through this, and it’s been more than just producing words on a page. It’s brought the learning to life.”
The showreel at their event included films about digitising homework, creating healthy diets for international athletes, campaigns promoting tap water and the importance of play for children using poetry from Michael Rosen, one of LitFilmFest’s partners.
Michael Rosen, former Children’s Laureate, said: “Play is one core element in learning. It allows us to experiment, try things out, learn what works or doesn’t work, see what happens, do things that end up with the unexpected. It enables us to work at our own pace or to switch when things don’t work out. These are all productive moments when we can learn and grow.”
Participation in LitFilmFest also provided these three schools with an excellent opportunity to develop teaching practice while creating shareable media. This brings their achievements to a global audience.
The schools had access to over 300 hours of fully resourced projects from the LitFilmFest library. Created with various partners such as the Houses of Parliament, Adobe, Michael Rosen, BBC Good Food, Change.org and the England Women’s football team, these projects have an inspiring impact. Using these projects, children have been congratulated in the House of Commons, featured by YouTube Kids and The Week Junior, interviewed on BBC radio and showcased in local press as well as national press like The Guardian.
Prep for the future
Creating opportunities to prepare pupils for the future is essential because, in time, they will go on to become our leaders. LitFilmFest CEO Dominic Traynor spoke on the TEDx stage about how schools can challenge their pupils to change the world through these opportunities. He explained: “I have enormous passion for the role education plays in affecting change. Children give us the chance to make a better world.”
LitFilmFest brings the whole school community of parents and students together in an incredible event which showcases cutting-edge teaching and learning with strong social messages. They work alongside schools in order to achieve accelerated progress and give our young people a voice.
The team behind LitFilmFest were the winners of the COBIS Supporting Member Award 2018 for their work with St George’s, Luxembourg. They also won the Institute of Education’s EDUCATE award for their research on how their digital approach improves traditional English at 3.75 times the UK national average rate.
For information on holding your own LitFilmFest, email firstname.lastname@example.org